Last week, District of Columbia Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Bryan Sivak announced the launch of the first common platform for “Open 311.” Open 311 provides free Application Programming Interface (API) access to city 311 systems for non-emergency city services.
Addressing the common complaint of citizens’ concerns buried in government bureaucracy, Open 311 allows citizens to control information consumption of the city services they choose.
Organizations on the web use APIs as a means of encouraging interaction with data. According to the District: “An API functions as a web protocol giving programmers anywhere access to data on a web server to build custom applications using that data.”
In June 2009, the District became the first city in the world to launch an Open 311 API. The code behind the API is open-sourced, allowing anyone to use it and build on it. D.C.’s API can be found at api.dc.gov.
“With Open 311, we’re simplifying services, making them more accessible, and bringing government closer to the people,” said District CTO Sivak. “I’m proud that the District is helping lead this innovation in digital democracy.”
Now the District is collaborating with other municipalities to create a common, multi-jurisdiction Open 311. The District, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Boston are the first cities to participate in this common venture.